News and Headlines

Actions

U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathon Hunter was killed in a suicide bombing while serving in Afghanistan

Posted at 11:04 AM, Aug 03, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ind. -- A central Indiana community is mourning the loss of one of their own who was killed while serving his country in Afghanistan on Wednesday.  

Jonathon Michael Hunter, 23, was one of two American service members killed when a suicide bomber targeted their convoy.

Mark Hunter said his son had just shipped off to his first deployment on July 1. He said Jonathon was proud to be serving his country and the two talked about it during their last phone conversation.

“He told me last Saturday on the phone he said, ‘I want to be here, this is what I joined for to fight and protect and serve,’” said Mark.

Jonathon graduated from Columbus East High School in 2011 where he was a member of the football team.

“He was with us for all four years and he was just one of those guys that were dependable and was always there,” said Bob Gaddis, Columbus East varsity football coach. 

Columbus East High School released the following statement about Hunter’s death.

“The Columbus East High School Community is sad to hear of the passing of one of its own. We were made aware that Jonathon Michael Hunter was killed in military action in Afghanistan. Jonathon was a 2011 graduate of Columbus East High School, and a member of the football team. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Hunter family, friends, the Columbus East community, and the BCSC community during this difficult time.

This is the second Columbus East graduate that has given his life for his country while serving in Afghanistan. In 2010 Jeremy McQueary was killed while conducting searches for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDS). He was 27.

Columbus East High School & The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation are proud of the commitment and dedication of these two young men in service to their country.”

After graduation, Jonathon traveled to Nashville Tennessee to chase his dream of becoming a music producer but changed plans a short time later and returned to the Hoosier state where he attended Indiana State University and participated in the Air Force ROTC program.

Serving was in Jonathon’s blood.

His father, Mark served eight years in the Army National Guard and his uncle, Kenny Hunter, was a First Sergeant in the U.S. National Guard in the 76th Brigade Charlie Company 113.

Jonathon enlisted in the Army in 2014 and quickly rose to the rank of Sergeant. He was serving with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

“When he came home right before he deployed I gave him a First Sergeant coin to take with him,” said Kenny.

Mark said members of the Indiana Nation Guard informed him Wednesday that his son had died in the attack on a NATO convoy in southern Afghanistan. 

Jonathon is survived by his wife, Whitney. The two were just weeks away from celebrating their first anniversary.

The U.S. military said two service members were killed and four others were wounded in the attack. 

The Taliban has taken responsibility for the bombing. 

Senator Joe Donnelly also issued a statement on Thursday thanking Hunter for his service and sacrifice. 

"I am saddened to hear that Columbus native, Jonathon Michael Hunter, has been killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan. His service and sacrifice in defense of our country will never be forgotten. My prayers and condolences go to his family, friends, fellow soldiers, and the entire Columbus community."

Sgt. Hunter's body returned to the Dover air force base on Friday. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, were both there for the transfer.